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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Opinion | Mark Erlich

At Old Colony, unions prove their worth

After 70 years, the Old Colony housing project in South Boston is getting a fresh start. The aging complex at the rotary where Columbia Road meets Old Colony Avenue has been transformed into 116 attractive new rental units made up of wood-framed townhouse-style homes, a six-story midrise, and a community center. The enhanced view from Dorchester Bay across Joe Moakley Park is only the most visible change in the neighborhood. The second phase of the Boston Housing Authority’s master plan is now underway under an innovative project labor agreement that will produce 169 more rental units and, as importantly, offer some of the project’s residents a pathway out of poverty.

The master plan is the result of a year-long community process that will ultimately create another 453 units along with the goals for job opportunities for public housing and local low-income residents. The PLA negotiated with Boston’s building trades unions incorporates language that exceeds the city’s standard hiring goals for residents, minorities, and women by establishing additional employment preferences for Section 3 residents from Old Colony and the city’s other public housing developments.

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